A New Perspective on Communication
Submitted by Jaclyn Stoersbach
|Jaclyn Stoersbach assists a patient during her clinical rotation in Italy. Submitted Photo.|
Ciao a tutti! I am a PT student currently doing my last clinical rotation in Italy, and it's been an unforgettable and life changing experience along with many challenges and rewards. Now, as you can imagine, it is quite difficult to meet someone, develop a rapport, educate and instruct them, and then place your hands on many different parts of their body when you don't speak the same language. This is where the challenges lie when working in a foreign country, but this is also exactly where the rewards present themselves. Learning how to communicate non-verbally with facial expressions, gestures, hand placement, body position and a consistent portrayal of patience is a challenging, but beautiful thing. It teaches you to find the humanity and common ground in all people, despite any external or verbal barriers.
Now, I don't want to sound like I only see through rose colored glasses. I obviously studied enough to learn basic phrases and commands, which come in quite handy when the impulsive hemiparetic patient and is about to launch himself out of bed to do a transfer for the first time. Aspeta, per favore! And along with learning a different language, I have been exposed to a different physical therapy approach, different billing and payment systems, different documentation, and the list goes on. Overall, my experience has been two-fold: professional and also personal development. And I truly believe that communication is the key, and maybe even the link, to both.